I love the smell of roasting peppers. My wife and I made a fall trip to New Mexico a few years ago, and it seemed like everywhere we went they were roasting the new crop of chiles. The wonderful aroma permeated the air as the roasters were set up outside supermarkets and on street corners. They were so reasonably priced, it was tempting to buy some and try and bring them home. But I knew I already had plenty NuMex type peppers growing in my own garden. And they would be waiting for me to roast when I got back home from vacation.
In the Southwest they use big, specially made roasters to do the job. At home, you can use the oven broiler or do like I do and use the gas grill. The grill lets you do a larger quantity at one time, and it also helps keep the smell outside just in case you aren’t as fond of the aroma as I am. Today I’m roasting a mix of two varieties: Anaheim and Biggie Chili. You can use any peppers you have available, and I also sometimes roast poblanos/anchos and other New Mexico types.
Either way you do it, the goal is to char the skin until it is blistered and blackened, but not so much that the peppers are burnt to a crisp. This is the part of the operation that I think smells so good! It doesn’t take long on a hot grill, perhaps five minutes, so check on the peppers after a few minutes of roasting to see how they are coming along. Once they are nicely charred on one side, flip them over and do the other side. This might go even a bit faster, so don’t be tempted to leave them too long!
I put them on a plate after they come off the grill. Aren’t they pretty? Now it’s back in the house for the next step that will make it easier to get those charred skins off.
After roasting, you want to cover the peppers and allow them to sweat as they cool. This loosens the skins, and makes them much easier to peel. I usually put them in a big metal mixing bowl, and then invert another mixing bowl over the top to make a cover. You can also put them in a plastic bag, or cover them with a damp towel. They should be ready to peel in about 10-15 minutes. It doesn’t hurt if they sit a bit longer though.
Some people just freeze the roasted peppers whole, skins and all, but I like to skin them and remove most of the seeds before I freeze them. I do put on gloves for the next step of skinning and seeding the peppers. Rubber gloves work, but I prefer a thinner vinyl glove because I find it allows me to have a better feel for what I am doing. And if you don’t wear glasses, you might consider wearing goggles for this task since I have managed to get some of the juice up in my eye and it is no fun!
After skinning, I split the peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out as many seeds as I can. You can also use a spoon for this if you like, scooping and scraping down the inside of the pepper. I avoid rinsing the seeds off under running water because I don’t want to wash away any of that good flavor.
At this point, the peppers are roasted, skinned and seeded. If you are going to use them right away, they can be refrigerated and kept for several days. But for longer term storage they need to be frozen.
I’m going to give these a coarse chop with a knife, and then I will divide them into portions before vacuum sealing them with the FoodSaver.
After sealing, it’s off to the freezer, where they will keep for at least a year. Of course you can also put them in a freezer bag or other container. The vacuum sealed bags do keep the air out though, and the quality of the peppers after thawing is excellent, as is the flavor.
And what can you do with all those peppers? Roasted chile peppers are great in salsa, sauces, soups and salads. They can also add flavor and a bit of heat to casseroles, cornbread and egg dishes. For me, they are a must for chili and chalupas, as well as for taco and burrito fillings. The flavor is so much better when you roast your own that you might never go back to using canned ones again!